NYPD Retirement 2004
The Police Department allowed Officer Daniel Rodriguez to take a leave for his trip to Washington to study with Placido Domingo and remains extremely supportive of his singing career.
At the CD release party Monday night, the first deputy police commissioner, George A. Grasso, received a $50,000 check for the city's Twin Towers Fund, the first proceeds of Officer Rodriguez's first single - "God Bless America," of course - released in December. It was Daniel's idea to produce the single and donate all proceeds.
April 2002 news article - two years prior to retirement
"We're very proud of him," Commissioner Grasso said. "I can't think of a better and more sincere ambassador of good will to the world. It's really what New York cops are all about."
The commissioner said the department was leaving it up to Officer Rodriguez to decide whether to stay with the force. But Chief Hoehl, his boss at the Manhattan South patrol force, has already told him to pack his bags.
"I told him my goal is to see him leave the Police Department and take off and do well with the God- given gift that he has," Chief Hoehl said. "As well as he sings, that's the kind of person he is also. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person."
Last public appearance as member of the NYPD May 2004
Official retirement June 30, 2004
Performance in Times Square in media event by Hilton Hotels. The sign of US flag is a human "bellboard," made up of the hotel's bellhops holding the sections.
Singing a different tune
Wednesday, May 26, 2004, Reginald Patrick, Advance Staff Writer
A little after 9AM yesterday morning, in direct competition with the traffic din, Staten Islander Daniel Rodriguez, the NYPD's celebrated singing cop and a symbol of this city's resilience after Sept. 11, was belting out a cappella renditions of the national anthem and "God Bless America" in Midtown's Patrick Duffy Square. The performance was part of a promotion for a national hotel chain.
Five hours later, Rodriguez, recently returned from a two-year leave of absence, was at the NYPD pension office in Lower Manhattan, submitting his retirement papers and officially ending a 10-year-run as a police officer. The Rossville resident was assigned most recently to Patrol Borough Manhattan South as a community affairs officer. His retirement officially takes effect June 30.
Rodriguez, who gained prominence when he performed at a Yankee Stadium prayer service shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, admitted things have been moving fast lately and he feels a little sad about putting away his badge for good.
"I'll miss the department's camaraderie," he said. "But I have a feeling my real work is just beginning. I'm going out and sing what's in my heart, share this gift that God's given me. I'd like to dedicate myself to learning how much I can actually accomplish as a singer. I'm happy to be moving forward." That forward motion will include a new album of religious music to go along with the two albums already released, more charity work and, of course concerts around the country and overseas.
Rodriguez sees the schedule as a continuation of the work he did during his leave of absence, when he was studying with tenor Placido Domingo and performed as much as possible. "I was making about 175 appearances a year," Rodriguez said. "It seemed like I was spending most of my time in an airplane."
Yesterday's performance was part of a pitch for Hilton Hotels as the Memorial Day weekend approaches. It featured a 16-foot-tall "human" billboard depicting the American flag -- 50 hotel bellhops holding flash boards -- and urging New Yorkers to stop in.
Rodriguez sang in front of the assembly and later shook hands with the workers. Bellhop Philip Eskow of New Springville, who works at the Hilton Hotel at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue, said he was "thrilled" to meet the man, widely acclaimed as "America's tenor."
The tenor is remembered for singing at funeral services for firefighters and police officers who perished at Ground Zero. "I believe I sang at over 150 funerals," Rodriguez said.
He has sung at international events like the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and appeared on television programs such as "Live with Regis and Kelly" and "Late Night with David Letterman." His two albums, "From the Heart" and "Spirit of America," have both done well on the charts.
Rodriguez began singing in the 7th grade. He joined the Police Department in 1995, after a string of odd jobs and a stint at a post office. He sang the national anthem at his police graduation in Madison Square Garden. "I feel that my music is a way to give back," Rodriguez said.
High 5's to the bellhops
Daniel walks Times Square to One Police Plaza to turn in his retirement papers